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Rant: Confessions of a Food Critic


Society & Culture  (tags: restaurants, waiters, waitresses, food service, food critics, dining out )

RC
- 3972 days ago - washingtonpost.com
Entertaining piece about restaurant service - or the lack of it - filled with humor and sharp observations.



   

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Comments

RC deWinter (418)
Tuesday September 2, 2008, 5:44 pm
Who hasn't been through a trial by fire - or hot soup - in a restaurant with lousy service? LOL...
 

Pamylle G (458)
Tuesday September 2, 2008, 6:34 pm
Ah, the disappearing plates ! The slowest and last to finish, my hands have learned to hover over my food...no, no I'm NOT done yet...no, I'm still not done...no, it's alright, they can order dessert...
 

Pete Conrads (91)
Tuesday September 2, 2008, 6:44 pm
Thanks for the laugh Cate!!!! :o) All so very painfully true.... you have to move everything way out of their reach so you can catch them reaching over the table lol!!!!!

I swear they are using an assembly line approach!!! no more casual dining folks, you're on the clock!!!!

Lots of laughter and joy,
Pete
 

Joycey B (750)
Tuesday September 2, 2008, 6:50 pm
I don't know where you find these stories Cate, but please continue. Noted laughing.
 

Mary H (47)
Tuesday September 2, 2008, 7:05 pm
I waited tables all through high school & college & would have been fired if I had approached customers the way so many waiting tables today do. It is better to find humor in the blunders made than get angry (and getting indigestion!)
TY Cate -- I join Joycey in laughter!
 

RC deWinter (418)
Tuesday September 2, 2008, 7:12 pm
The most vivid memory I have of awful food service stretches back to when I was 6 0r 7 years old. My cousin Joe and his new wife Connie's wedding reception was held at a hall in Fairfield, CT. At the time my family still lived in South Norwalk (we later moved to Fairfield), so going there was very exotic to me. It was a very elegant place, the name of which is hovering in my mind just out of reach.

ANYWAY...I remember clearly that all 7 or 8 bridemaids were wearing those pouffy bouffant tulle gowns that were so popular then. The first course was a homemade chicken soup, and I will never forget one of the servers dumping an entire plate of steaming hot soup into a bridesmaid's lap. I have no idea why this seemingly insignificant memory has stayed with me, but I can see it in my mind's eye as though it were yesterday.
 

James M (190)
Tuesday September 2, 2008, 7:18 pm
Am I really old, or does that waiter look like Dabney Coleman?
 

RC deWinter (418)
Tuesday September 2, 2008, 7:19 pm
Another fun dining experience, this time in Westport, CT. Three high school friends and I were home on break from college and decided to try this new place for lunch that had gotten rave reviews.

I ordered the cream of pea soup. I was starving, so when it arrived I dipped my spoon right in and took a huge mouthful. When I closed my mouth, I clamped my teeth on two or three hard and pointed things. I was so started I spit the soup back into the plate.

Stirring around in the soup, I discovered that the soup was full of WOODEN TOOTHPICKS that must have been knocked into the cookpot by some careless idiot in the kitchen. The toothpicks had merrily simmered right along with the soup and were swollen width-wise to twice their usual size.

Can you imagine if I'd tried to swallow that mouthful??? And those cheap bast*ards wouldn't even comp my replacement order. Needless to say, we never went back, and we all badmouthed that restaurant to everyone we knew.
 

RC deWinter (418)
Tuesday September 2, 2008, 7:20 pm
Yer old James, and he does...LOL!
 

Suruna WTF (38)
Tuesday September 2, 2008, 7:44 pm
I don't eat out much, for a number of reasons, but I find I'm least inclined based on high prices for crap. And the notion of service is so beyond current concept, regardless of venue, I do my errands and just come home.
 

Linda H (199)
Tuesday September 2, 2008, 7:50 pm
You do come up with some doosies,Cate! I will not even begin to start with some of my stories!I worked in food service at Sam's Club! while sanitation is important not all practiced it.
Thanks,Cate Service with a :)
 

Joan Mclaughlin (133)
Tuesday September 2, 2008, 7:51 pm
The only way to teach them a lesson is with the tip or lack there of.Once at the olive garden I went to the ladies room only to come back to the table and find my food gone.I left a quarter tip.The waiter told the manager and he said there was a minimum tip.I told him not for taking my food that I didn't even eat.So I wrote to corporate headquarters.They sent me a 50 dollar gift card.When we went back he remembered us.They were falling all over us.I have learned to fight when need be.My point is you have to hit where it hurts-THE POCKET BOOK.
 

Jennifer Langer (72)
Tuesday September 2, 2008, 9:10 pm
I loves this article. I especially liked the idea about calling on your cell phone to request the check. I might use that one next time!
 

Peace M (185)
Wednesday September 3, 2008, 1:13 am
Having worked in the industry, the shenanigans reported in the article would not have been permitted by the owners of any of the restaurants I worked in. Clients were always afforded plenty of time to finish their meals, without any interruptions except perhaps to refill the water glasses on the tables. However, it was an unwritten rule that one did not interrupt conversation unless addressed. Customer service meant just that.
After reading the article I can understand why so many folks don't dine out and for those who do, why do they if this is the type of 'service' they receive?
 

Past Member (0)
Wednesday September 3, 2008, 1:32 am
Thanks Cate! SLOW FOOD ! No more fast food dining! Enjoy slow food! The way you eat your food is just as important as what you eat! Never eat if you dont have the time its a waste of food! Enjoy your meals and celebrate every meal! FOOD FOR THE WORLD! 800 million people go to bed hungry.....
 

Dolores H (2)
Wednesday September 3, 2008, 3:08 am
Very entertaining article. "Some servers have honed their skills to Olympic levels" :) that's a great line.

I truly hate places that leave you sitting and waiting for your check, and the waitstaff doesn't show up. When this happens, I do get up, and head for the cash register. And this article has given me an idea. Yes, call! Next time that happens, I'll call the restaurant and say, "Table number 5 is waiting for her check. If no one shows up within 3 minutes, well, ummm, thanks for dinner!"
 

Ramona G (141)
Wednesday September 3, 2008, 5:32 am
Amusing article and oh so true! Thanx Cate
 

Louise L (48)
Wednesday September 3, 2008, 3:54 pm
This was really a fun article! Years ago, I ran into a Wendy's as soon as they opened to grab a bite, and the entire staff went through the "locked" box of opinion cards and proceeded to throw away all the ones not marked excellent. Did not bother them that I was a witness. My daughter and I went to a Monterey House, starving, ordered, and got the tiniest enchiladas I had ever seen, and like one tablespoon of beans and rice. I grabbed an opinion card on the way out, mailed it the next day to corporate office, forgot about it until the regional manager called me with lots of questions. Seemed the crew had been spotted selling food out the back door that they had "sold" to customers. In a week I got a $30 gift certificate, we went back to find a whole new crew who acted like I was Queen Elizabeth. Moral: rat on them when they cheat you. Thanks, Cate!!
 

Denice G (45)
Wednesday September 3, 2008, 9:21 pm
Loved it. It's all too true. Thanks
 

Estella Ameigh (22)
Thursday September 4, 2008, 8:02 pm
Good one Cate. My Mom never let anyone reach in front of her at our table
or they would be met with a fork or knife. She could take the butter back
off your knife before you knew what had happened! She had waitressed when
I was little and had told us never to take someone's plate away from them without asking first. Normally one would not even ask in the first place
as the "sign" that someone is finished with their meal is the folded napkin
placed across the plate. It is rude for a waitress to reach in front of you, but acceptable to pick up the dishes placed to the side of the table
if they first ask, "Are you finished with these?" Have some great waitresses at the Country Buffet where we eat that seem to know this. At
another place that I like to eat out at a new waitress made the mistake of
taking a plate away from my husband while he was eating a piece of bread
over it and then proceeded to reach for mine as I was finishing some mashed
potatoes. She got such a dirty look from me that she withdrew her arm and
did not get my plate until I was finished. If looks could have killed she would have been dead on the spot! She has learned not to mess around when
I am eating. She is a much better waitress now and has learned that we tip
well unless there is a major screw-up. Doesn't forget our water, straws,
napkins or take our plates without asking as I will drop the tip a dollar
for those infractions. Call me a picky consumer, but it works. I like the idea of calling the restraunt from your cell phone-this could be very useful when sometimes it seems like everyone disappears. Let's all help
them improve customer service after all the customer is always right. Happy eating out. :)
 

Sheila G (267)
Sunday September 7, 2008, 8:38 am
I waited for 15 years, tended bar for 2. I do know how to make a great margharita, so when at Chili's last year, I was served one WITHOUT the tequila, I asked to have it added. the bartender gave me a shot on the side, thanks for nothing. :P
then charged me for two drinks, I complained, had it taken off my bill, which was given to me before my appetizer even arrived! so I cancelled the entire order, left and wrote to Chili's. they sent me two 20 dollar certificates. I used them for take out. hah!
 
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